"How bad do you really want it" is one of the biggest questions to ask of prospects at this time of the year; it doesn't matter if you are a New York Ranger, New York Islander or any other team's prospect. Sometimes how prospects handle adversity can shed light as to how they will handle pressure in the future.
It can be a cruel and sometimes very painful process for these prospects to go through but bluntly it is a necessary one. Now is when we learn which prospects will be there when the pressure increases just as much as we will learn about those who melt.
For the prospects playing at the NCAA level, they have Saturday and then next weekend remaining in the regular season. Those playing in the Canadian juniors have a little longer to go as a regular season ends on the weekend of St. Patrick's Day.
Toss in that many a prospect is hearing his name being mentioned in NHL trade rumors and that's quite a lot of pressure to be placed on a teenager. Like we said it can be cruel and sometimes very painful.
So here's to finding out whether the strong will actually survive or not.
New York Ranger Star – Christian Thomas
Perhaps it's only right that Christian Thomas (NYR 2010 2nd) is our Ranger Star of the night as we have watched him the last couple handle the pressure this second generation prospect has been under. Pick from any one of a dozen reasons whether it is being the son of an established NHL player who has cup rings or the endless doubters because Thomas is only 5'9; Thomas does not shy away from pressure but in many ways he embraces it and we love that about him.
Ask the Plymouth Whalers who saw a two-goal lead disappear in the final 30 seconds of regulation playing against Thomas's Oshawa Generals. Thomas scored the game-tying goal at 19:51 of the third period to send the game into overtime so Oshawa would at least get a point out of this game to help keep their playoff hopes alive.
The Whalers would eventually take advantage of a power-play in overtime to come away with a 4-3 win but one can be pretty sure they were more relieved that they did not blow a 3-1 lead.
For Thomas, the goal was his 30th of the season and Thomas had a secondary assist (also his 30th) to extend his scoring streak to six games (7–4–11). One will not be able to blame Thomas in the Generals fell the make the playoffs as Thomas is doing his best to carry the team going 12-10-22 in his last 15 games.
The Ranger prospect story can be found right here.
New York Islanders Star – Andrey Pedan
Quite honestly the last Islander prospect that we thought we would be talking about as star of the night is Andrey Pedan (NYI 2011 3rd). Pedan if anything has been one of the most undisciplined prospects the Islanders have so expecting him of all people to rise to the occasion was a surprise and we hope he surprises us several more times.
Pedan and his Guelph Storm are fighting for their playoff lives trying to overtake the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds for the 8th and final playoff spot in the OHL's Western Conference. Every game has now become a "must win" situation for them as they cannot afford to allow the Greyhounds to pull away from them.
The Storm were hosting the Owen Sound Attack and taking advantage of a late 2nd period power-play, scored with 6 seconds remaining in the period to take a 4-2 lead going into the 3rd period. It was a goal that broke the Attack as the Storm broke the game open with 2 more goals in the 3rd for a 6-2 win.
Pedan had assists on both 3rd period goals but it was his all-around play in the game (including not taking a single penalty) that impressed us because he did rise to the occasion. Actually if we look closer at Pedan we will see that he has been trying to help the Storm make the playoffs.
The 2 assists (a primary and secondary) are part of a late-season surge from Pedan as he has gone 1-6-7 in his last 4 games trying to keep the storm's playoff hopes alive. Good for him and as we said we hope to see him here more often down the stretch.
The rest of the Islander prospects can be found here.
Here is the updated list of teams with prospects that have qualified for their leagues playoffs
Shawinigan Cataractes- Kirill Kabanov (NYI)
Baie-Comeau Drakkar- Samuel Noreau (NYR)
Plymouth Whalers- JT Miller (NYR)
Niagara IceDogs- Ryan Strome and Mitchell Theoret (NYI)
Spokane Chiefs – Brendan Kichton (NYI)
Hockey East- (top eight teams qualify)
Boston College- Chris Kreider (NYR)-- also clinched first-round home ice
Penticton – Steven Fogarty (NYR)-- also clinched best record league
(Thomas and Pedan- OHL images – Aaron Bell and Terry Wilson)